Great cover this week, huh? Sure that cape has no practical use whatsoever anymore, but it looks pretty cool nonetheless.
Issue #4, like issue #1, collects 3 short done-in-one or “one-and-done” (whichever you prefer to call ’em) stories, 2 of which feature the Joker. I understand the allure of wanting to use the Joker if you think this may be the only opportunity you have as a writer to play in this universe, but come on. I think we all have to be getting Joker-fatigue by now, right? He’s in practically every issue of the New 52 books and those of us looking for a break from all that get kinda bummed out when we open this book and find even more Clown Prince of Crime. Anyway, on with yet another positive review for this series!
The first story, A Game to Die For, by T.J. Fixman and Christopher Mitten is a story worth a re-read because you won’t look at it the same way once you’ve seen the ending. It’s also a story that I wasn’t particularly fond of in the first couple page turns: a new superhero in Gotham? More Joker? Artwork with jagged scribbles and splattered ink? Well, as it turns out this story about a rookie superhero trying to hold the Joker captive until Batman can arrive all while henchmen try to pry the doors open goes much, much deeper and the gnarly artwork fit the tone of the story perfectly. The psychedelic colors by David Lopez and Santi Casas really made this book come alive.
The following piece, Batman: The Movie by Andrew Dabb and Giorgio Pontrelli, wasn’t anywhere near as entertaining and was actually extremely predictable. The artwork is fine, the writing is fine, but it never did anything that wowed the eye or burned into my memory. After being so surprised by the first story by T.J. Fixman I was expecting a twist of some sort to spin this story into a bold new direction but in the end it simply went through the motions and was over and forgotten. Not bad, no, no, not bad by far. It’s simply did not get as creative as other stories I’ve seen in this series. A few funny lines, though.
The third and final short is by Jonathan Larsen, who did that fantastic story in Legends of the Dark Knight #1 that had Batman fighting Amazo in the Justice League satellite This time we stay on planet Earth for a more traditional Batman detective story that sees the Dark Knight investigating the abduction of epileptic children. The artwork by Tan Eng Huat was highly expressive and had a nice cartoony quality sort of like Greg Capullo’s work. My only problem with the art was that Batman’s grimace was sometimes too exaggerated and sort of reminded me of that Me Gusta meme. As for the story…I went back and forth on it. I really, really dug the detective work. Seeing Batman perched outside the window of a crime scene sharing notes with Gordon, picking locks, reading files, taking out the bad guy’s lookout, all of that was top-notch. Once we actually learn what the villain’s motive is, that’s when things got complicated and I had to suspend my disbelief quite a bit. Let me explain in spoilers
Overall, this was another fun issue, just not as strong as the previous 3 which were all absolutely excellent so it feels kind of unfair to compare. Of all the comics out there for $3.99, this one is actually giving you your money’s worth. This is one of the best books a Batman fan can buy.